Month: November 2010

Friday wrap-up

When it comes to dressing, I’ve been keeping a death grip on the last vestiges of fall, even through my recent bout of the ‘flu. [I can hear my mom’s “tsk, tsk” from here.] As a result, my black turtleneck has been getting a ton of wear under a variety of clothes from my “summer” wardrobe. Of course, with the dump of snow that we got this week, I think my luck is running out. So, one last time, for the memories …

Dress, Zara; turtleneck, Suzy Shier; tights, The Bay;
booties, Nine West.

And introducing … my new wine-coloured tights.  I’m pretty satisfied with them. They feel nice and are properly opaque. The brand name is Hue. Since The Bay didn’t have my size, I went with the next size up, which helps eliminate that “strangled” feeling from the whole control top experience. They were a pretty pricey pair ($15), but I have high hopes that they will last through at least a dozen washes.
I must say, though … either I have disproportionately large thighs, or the sizing is a bit off. The box indicated the size was appropriate for anyone 5’2 to 6′ and 165-200 pounds. I’m not 165 pounds, but the tights fit pretty snug over my thighs. They were rather roomy around the ankles and feet, which makes me wonder what kind of prototypes they’re using in making these things. Ah, the mysteries of the clothing industry …

Road trip!!

I have to say, I don’t like Calgary. No, this isn’t hockey rivalry speaking. I’ve just never warmed up to Calgary, that’s all. Maybe it has something to do with all those darn hills everywhere, or maybe the bad driving (shudder!). It’s too bad, really, because I have many dear friends who live there now, and I rarely get to see them. Which makes my once-in-a-blue-moon trips south all the more special – and I love a good road trip!
Apart from the social aspects – and the stop-over at the Donut Mill in Gasoline Alley! – one of my favourite things about road trips is, what else, the shopping. It started off as something of a joke, but has since become a tradition: in every Canadian city I visit, I make a ‘pilgrimage’ to the local Winners. Every Winners in Edmonton has a slightly different flavour, so it only makes sense that Winners stores in other cities would have their own eclectic mix of things. Like the best bazaar, you never quite know what you’re going to get each time; but when it’s good, it’s “jackpot!” good.
On my recent trip to Calgary a couple of weeks ago, I hit up not one but two different Winners – one in Deerfoot Mall, and one at Cross Iron Mills (both just off Highway 2, so awfully convenient). I wanted to make it three by stopping at the Winners in Red Deer as well, but my husband’s patience can only be stretched so far. While I didn’t find any out-of-this-world deals, I did pick up a couple of really cool accessories.
First up, a necklace I first saw at the Calgary Trail/34th Ave Winners here in town. A lady just ahead of me “scooped” me  on that occasion, much to my annoyance.  The bad thing about Winners’ retail philosophy is that you are never guaranteed to find two of anything, anywhere. But what do you know, a few weeks later and 400 km away, I found the “one that got away”.
I love the colour of the green agate, and the mix of stones, pearls and metal. I think this will be a good piece to dress up plain black tops.

Next, a piece that was the first thing to catch my eye when I walked into the store.

Again, it was the colour of this Oscar by Oscar de la Renta scarf that drew me in. It feels really luxurious and looks like something I might have picked up on some exotic vacation – not Calgary. The best part – it’s reversible!


This will be a fantastic piece for the winter – and keeping cozy in my office.

Style tips with my mom

As I’ve mentioned before, my stylista tendencies have started rubbing off on my mom, much to my delight and my dad’s chagrin. We’ve done our fair share of mother-daughter shopping trips over the last few years, which has allowed me to keep an eye on the things she buys and ensure that the “frump” factor is dialed as low as possible. After all, my mom is a smokin’ lady and her clothes need to reflect that.
Having said that, she’s become fairly adept at finding flattering pieces in proportions that work for her body type. When she recently asked me to help her tweak some of her more recently-acquired outfits, there wasn’t much for me to do – she had most of the basics down. Still, this gave me an idea. With her help, I put together a short list of styling “rules” for  the “advanced”; these are minor tweaks that can help take an outfit from good to great. For the photos below, I took an outfit that my mom had put together (left), and made a few changes of my own(right). Let’s take a look!

#1: Don’t be too matchy-matchy

This is a great temptation for people experimenting with prints for the first time. There is nothing inherently wrong with matching your top to your skirt to your shoes (as my mom is wont to do). But if you want to kick up the style another notch or two, don’t be afraid to step outside the comfort zone. The easiest way to do that is to still match … but in less obvious ways. In the outfit on the right, we picked up on the light grey accent colour in the skirt and went with a grey tank top and grey heels. None of these greys matched exactly, but they had the same cool, greenish undertones, which helped make the outfit look cohesive (and set off the pinks of the skirt). 

If you want to try this at home: when working with prints, pick one of the secondary colours in the print and use that as your “accessory” colour. If both your primary and accessory colours are strong, use black to anchor the look together. For example, if your accessory colour is purple, and you use it in your shoes choice, you can go with a black jacket or cardigan (and vice versa).
Be adventurous with colour
Again, there is nothing wrong with a monochromatic wardrobe. Black, in particular, is a style “safety blanket” for a lot of people. But nothing invigorates an outfit more quickly than colour. If you’re a colour-phobe, you can start with a little accent here and there (like my mom did in her outfit pick, left). Once you get more comfortable, it’s time to experiment. In most cases, three different colours per outfit is a maximum (and it’s probably best left to the professionals), but two  – plus a neutral, like black – is pretty easy. Don’t be afraid to pair colours from the opposite side of spectrum – they will create the biggest impact.

Don’t be afraid of BIG prints

Just like colour, prints scare off a lot of people. No need! No matter what size you are, there is a print out there that you can pull off. In fact, nine times out of ten, a larger print is probably the way to go. Small prints can look fussy, dated and, in some cases, can make a person look bigger than the person really is. Prints are a really easy way to add visual interest to simple pieces, and to infuse a little bit of trendiness into a classic look (hello, leopard print!).

And, as I’ve said before, never be afraid to tuck in. It may not work in every situation, but you won’t know that until you try it.
And a couple of final tweaks

Here are a few short takes: (1) if you are more of a pear-shape and want to de-emphasize your hips, wear the darkest colour of your outfit on the bottom; (2) if you’re not very tall and/or have a shorter neck, avoid high crew necklines and show off some of your collarbone (a long necklace always helps elongate the neck, too); (3) make sure your top and/or skirt lies straight across your stomach without “dipping” in front – this avoids the creation of an illusory “pooch”.

Got a style question? Want your own style session or shopping trip with me? Contact me at bluecollarredlipstick@gmail.com or on Facebook.